BRECKENRIDGE - It was Halloween night and Chris McIntyer and Ellen Christman were getting ready to take their child trick-or-treating, when they heard a woman screaming for help from a nearby house.
They recognized the voice of their next-door neighbor and knew she was in danger. The couple had come to the woman's aid before when her boyfriend had become abusive.
But that night, when Christman tried to call 911, the phone line went dead.
McIntyer left to go find a police officer, while Christman went over to the neighbors' house to try to coax her hysterical neighbor out of the home.
Through a window in the door, Christman watched as the woman's significant other locked the door and dragged the neighbor away by her hair.
Christman began banging on the door, trying to yell to the victim that help was on the way. McIntyer was able to locate and return with several law-enforcement officers who forced entry into the house and arrested the man.
"Ellen and Chris acted with bravery in the face of a dangerous situation," Frisco detective Julie Polly said. "They put themselves at great personal risk and they took great action to try to end an act of violence and may have saved a life."
The Frisco Police Department and members of the law-enforcement community recognized Christman and McIntyer for their actions Wednesday with the first-ever Community Courage Award, presented during a short ceremony at the Summit County Sheriff's Office.
Domestic violence experts said neighbors and community members are often afraid to get involved when they witness abuse, considering domestic violence to be a private, family affair.
"We have a great deal of respect and admiration for the fact that you chose to get involved in what was happening and chose to go the extra length to get help," Advocates for Victims of Assault director Amy Jackson said. "It means a lot to us as a community that you would take those steps."
Christman and McIntyer said they had helped their neighbor in similar situations during the time she lived next door, sometimes offering her rides to friends' houses when the situation deteriorated.
Christman said she and her husband simply did what needed to be done.
"It was the right thing to do," she said. "I hope we can inspire other people in the community to get involved and not be afraid to speak up for people that maybe can't speak for themselves."